How to Discover Vancouver in 24 Hours

Outside Granville Island's Public Market | © Hayley Simpson
Outside Granville Island's Public Market | © Hayley Simpson
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer9 May 2017

Vancouver is brimming with so many attractions and amazing things to do that you could easily spend a week exploring the Canadian city. However, if you only have one day to see the highlights, here is the best way to discover the best of Vancouver in just 24 hours.

Spend the morning in Downtown Vancouver

Start the morning right with breakfast and a walk through downtown Vancouver. Two top café options are Jam Cafe and Café Medina. The former is known for its large portions, while Café Medina is famous for its waffles and eclectic brunch menu.

Walk off your meal by heading to Stanley Park—one of Vancouver’s biggest attractions and one of North America’s largest urban parks. Visitors can walk or bike along the seawall and check out its beaches in the summertime. There’s also the option to visit Vancouver Aquarium in the middle of the park. Otherwise, just meander through its center and enjoy the breathtaking views from every angle. If there’s still time available before heading to lunch, one recommendation is experiencing the awesome flight simulation that is FlyOver Canada.

Views from Stanley Park | © Hayley Simpson

Lunch on Main Street

A walk through Stanley Park will definitely make you hungry. Catch the bus out of the city (or hop in your rental car) to Main Street, which is another popular area in Vancouver. The street’s primary hub stretches from 7th to 30th Avenue. Top local recommendations for lunch include Lucy’s Eastside Diner for comfort food; Meet on Main for some vegan fare; or local café JJ Bean for a lighter lunch option. After lunch, check out the many independent boutiques and clothing stores along Main Street. Popular consignment shops include Front and Company and 8th & Main.

JJ Bean Coffee Roasters | © GoToVan / Flickr

A quick visit to Queen Elizabeth Park

From the end of Main Street’s hub at 30th Avenue, it’s a short walk to Queen Elizabeth Park. Although you may not be interested in visiting two parks in one day, the views of Vancouver and its surrounding mountains from Queen Elizabeth Park make this a worthwhile pit stop. You can also check out Bloedel Conservatory here, which is a hidden tropical paradise.

Vancouver as seen from Queen Elizabeth Park | © Hayley Simpson

Afternoon tea at Granville Island

Granville Island is a small inlet just over the bridge from downtown Vancouver. It’s known for its arts, brewery, and public market, which is open every day and is home to fresh produce, locally handmade gifts, a food court and many stalls selling delicious homemade sweet treats. Find an afternoon pick-me-up and enjoy it outside—just be wary of the overly friendly and aggressive seagulls!

Outside Granville Island’s Public Market | © Hayley Simpson

Happy Hour in Olympic Village

Hop onboard The Vancouver Aquabus and enjoy seeing the city from the water as you travel down False Creek from Granville Island to Olympic Village. The small boats are a unique way to get from point A to point B in Vancouver. Today, Olympic Village is home to many apartments, a beautiful waterfront walk, perfect views towards the city, and some excellent restaurants. One of the city’s best patios is at Tap & Barrel, which is a favorite place to enjoy happy hour. There’s also CRAFT Beer Market, which has over 100 beers on tap.

Science World from Olympic Village | © Hayley Simpson

A Gastown evening

After a tour of Vancouver, it’s time to head back downtown and visit Gastown for dinner and drinks. Gastown is the city’s most historic area and one of its coolest neighborhoods too. It has cobblestone streets, circular lamps that glow at night, and trees adorned with lights.

You can’t choose a bad place for dinner in Gastown, but top picks include The Flying Pig, The Lamplighter for pub fare, and Peckinpah for Carolina-style barbecue. If you have a sweet tooth, it’s worth visiting Soft Peaks Ice Cream, which serves Vancouver’s first organic soft serve ice cream. However, perhaps checking out Revel Room, and its classic cocktails, is more your late-night style.

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